Playscape Project


Thank you for your interest in Big Thompson Elementary's Playscape Project!

The Playscape Project Story

Having been designated as a School of Nature and Science in 2009, it was only natural that Big Thompson community wanted to make the outdoors a better place to learn and play! The project coordination team solicited feedback from students, staff, and the community and incorporated these ideas into the Playscape Project's conceptual plan. By revitalizing of the exterior landscape of Big Thompson Elementary and its adjoining Outdoor Education Center, we will improve access to natural areas, giving kids the advantage of connecting with nature on a daily basis! Encouraging unstructured, creative, imaginative play will provide academic, fitness, health and behavioral benefits to both Big Thompson students and members of the community. Big T hopes to be the first public school in Northern Colorado with a natural playscape!

Playscape Project Images

The scope of this project includes four primary goals to create natural playscapes at the school:

  • Lower playscape – create diverse topography in the area through the addition of small hills, boulders, small sand pits, and native vegetation selected to stimulate the five senses. Specific features of this playscape include a "hill slide," rock climbing wall, and a few new play structures typically found at a school playground. A poured rubber surface will provide the required "fall zones" around the equipment using rubber from recycled tires.

  • Upper play area – create a 1/10-mile ADA accessible crushed surface track with a small (50'x100') artificial turf area in the center made from recycled plastic. The track/field will also be a welcome amenity to local community members (the next closest one is approximately 8 miles away) as well as organized sports groups, who often have trouble finding locations to practice.
  • ADA accessible trail – located across the street from the school, this four-acre area has trails, a covered outdoor education classroom, and new signs designed and fabricated by Rocky Mountain National Park. A Larimer County small grant will build steps from the road down to the area. In this project's scope, a new 2/10-mile ADA trail will connect the outdoor classroom to the school and the playgrounds.
  • Front area – non-native bluegrass will be replaced with native grasses and vegetation, and a large flagstone monument sign. A natural bioswale will be created in the front drainage area where students can learn about water filtration and runoff before the water drains in to the Big Thompson River (located across the street).

The total projected cost to complete the project is $525,000. Our goal is to raise $100,000 in cash donations that will be used to match grants. All funds will be contributed to playground improvements regardless of grant status.



Big Thompson Elementary School • 7702 West Highway 34, Loveland, Colorado, 80538 • (970) 613.5600 • email us

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